Our spiritual journey in this world is about self-improvement (tarakki; takammul). As Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, we need to make sure each day we are a bit better than the previous. No stagnation… always moving forward, even with baby steps.
We have many roles in life: an abd to our Creator, a daughter, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, ….etc. Being “better” in all the other roles is directly caused by being a “better” abd of God. The “better” criteria is also set by the Divine… in the guidebooks.
So here are some tips to inspire you to become a better wife, by becoming a better abd. I adopted them from several marriage books and infused the iman perspective:
1. Take care of yourself: I mean spiritually first and physically second. Both are our responsibility towards the trust (life/spirit and body) our Creator has given us. We cannot give to others unless we fill our glass first.
2. Say thank you often: shukr (thankfulness) towards the Giver (which results from realizing the givenness of everything) is a key pillar of our relationship with our Creator. Part of this is saying thank you to people, who make the right choice with their partial freewill and give us (love, companionship, care, support, a smile). It is out of humbleness that we notice and say thank you.
3. Keep the love alive: The Absolute Loving (Wadud) has put love between your hearts as a reflection of His Divine Attribute, Love. Respect it, cherish it, continue to engage in spiritual contemplation and worship so God softens your heart towards all the Created, including your spouse and children insha’allah.
4. Let him have his me/guy time: Subhanallah, marriage and everything else in our life is part of our spiritual journey towards God. The ego/nafs is always “on” wanting to control and own everything around it. We don’t own our spouses and they don’t have to always be where we want them to be/around us. Let him be… His ego/nafs needs to be trained through different positives and negatives from different venues/people, too.
5. Make your husband a priority: If we made a commitment to marriage and signed those papers, we made a promise. And every promise is essentially made to God. Through his life and his commitment to his promises, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had taught us the weight of this matter. If God mentions the importance of keeping your aqd in the Quran, this indeed must be a very serious matter. We are living with another abd of God. He has rights on us, we have rights on him. It is our duty (towards God) to fulfill our responsibilities to our spouse, regardless of wether he is fulfilling his or not. In the hassle of daily life, we forget that we need to put energy, effort, attention to fulfilling our responsibility towards our spouse, be it a smile, being kind, saying thank you, doing pleasing gestures like cooking his favorite dish, buying a thoughtful gift, taking care of ourself…etc.
6. Don’t try to change him; change yourself: This goes for everything in life. All happens/is with the will of God. Our duty is to change/better ourself first. If he has shortcomings, that is his duty towards his Creator to fix them. We cannot/will not have power over these changes. We exhaust ourself and our marriage by trying to fix him up, while we should in fact be focusing on ourself.
7. Don’t make him guess; tell him what you want: This goes for everyone in life too. Islamic principles of kind but straightforward communication would solve so many relationship problems. Be respectful and kind, and say what you feel, think, want.
8. Cultivate “good” friends and interests outside of marriage: It is important to notice that our duty to our kids and spouse is very important. But it is not the whole thing. Our first responsibility to ourself (fix up yourself), then to our family, then to others- in this order. The key in this order is its order! If we focus on becoming a more faithful abd, then we automatically will help our family and then together with the family, you can help others. We need to find “good” friends who will help us in our journey to get closer to God, and “good” interests that will serve humanity.
9. Let his free time be free: In Islam there is no concept of “free time”. That is idleness, nothingness, stagnation, and it has no place in an abd‘s life. But what we mean by this principle is, if he has done his duty towards you and your kids, he can have ‘his’ time to decide on his own what he wants to do with it. Going back to the me or guy time. He is an individual with his own spiritual journey. He can make his choices and will make his mistakes… You do not own him!
10. Believe in him (or rather believe in God) and let him know it: Infusing this commonly used unGodly phrase with some iman, we can say believe in God’s Wisdom and Love for choosing him for you as a spouse. God is the Infinitely Wise and He loves us infinitely. Insha’allah, He guides us to the right path and answers our call when we call on Him. Let’s call on God and let’s believe in His Love and Mercy to guide his servants (Hadi). Let’s pray with our spouse and let him know that we believe in our Creator to put more love and compassion in our hearts towards one another and to guide us to become better people in His path insha’allah…
Pray, pray, pray…